Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Why is it that once you have kids, you start using the word "grown-ups" to describe what you used to call "adults"? I suppose it is because children are not yet grown, and since adults are, that's a more easily understandable word to them. OK, I just answered my own question. But, I still think "grown-up" is a strange term, because it also implies maturity in a way that the word "adult" does not.

This is on my mind because today at the table, my 4-yr old son had a revelation (I could see it in his eyes and the way in which he said this), "Mom! You are a kid who's now a grown-up!" My instant thought was, "I sure hope so." But I said, "Yes, that's right!" knowing he was only expressing the realization that I used to be a kid.

So I've been thinking about what it means to be a grown-up. I'm sure there are 600 self-help books out there that offer answers. But those writers probably have their own blogs. I know that being a true grown-up has something to do with wisdom, which is different from simply having knowledge. People can accumulate knowledge their whole lives and still lack the wisdom to live a healthy life. Even if it's really, really good knowledge, Biblical knowledge.

Last week, I was listening to Christian radio - a sermon I caught the middle of (I don't know by whom) - and the speaker was talking about the analogy found in Matthew 7 of the wise and foolish builders. The wise man builds his house upon the rock, the foolish man builds his house upon the sand. Then bad weather comes, and you get the idea. The speaker said something that stuck with me, though. He said that the original word for "fool" in this context literally means "one who fails to weigh matters." The foolish builder is reactive, impulsive, and probably doesn't ask for counsel when he's making a decision. The converse of this must mean that a wise person is he who judges a situation before acting. It took much longer to build a house on solid rock; it involved more planning, more effort, and more time. But the reason the wise man chose the rock was that he weighed the situation and decided against the easy way out; he looked at the pros and cons, probably got advice from people who are experienced at building things on rock, and expected the unexpected in terms of misfortune. This guy was a grown-up.

Jesus is the one who tells this story. There is much more to the meaning of this story because He is saying that those who hear His words and do not put them into practice are like the foolish builders, and those who choose to act on the knowledge He's given are like wise builders. It is not enough to just know what He says. I'm gathering that a grown-up, then, is a person who weighs a matter, and then puts one's God-given knowledge into practice accordingly. Makes you kind of not want to use that word "grown-up" so casually anymore, huh? This is no doubt a high calling.

I do a lot of analyzing; not on purpose, it's just how I roll. Lots of words, lots of thoughts, and lots of examination of myself and the world around me. So I'm in a mental position to weigh matters before I react to a situation, but whether I do so is another story. I realize that I will fail to be the grown-up in every circumstance if I allow my emotions to get ahead of me. Weighing a matter requires a pause, and a pause requires self-control. And the more I talk about this, the more nervous I'm getting. This is not easy when our lives are soaked with busyness and conflict and vulnerability.

Before I get carried away by the sheer odds against me ever becoming a truly wise builder, thank God, literally, He has one promise that I have to hold onto, and tightly. James 1:5 says:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

Amen to that. Isn't that promise way too simple? It seems like we should have to work harder for wisdom. But no. There isn't a series of painful events that have to take place before we get it (though God can use pain to teach us). There isn't a maturity prerequisite for getting wisdom. There isn't even anything we can do to earn it. You just ask. The only stipulation is believing God is going to do what He says. The very next verse says:

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

OK God. I can ask, I will ask, and I will ask today. I will add one more brick to my house on the Rock. And there is no doubt in my mind that You will come through. You are a promise-making, promise-keeping God.

So there you have it. I just celebrated completing 35 years of life, and I'm still pushing for "grown-up" status. Will I feel this way when I'm 45, or 65? Probably. But my house on the rock will be looking really awesome by then.

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